City boss Bryan Gunn today paid tribute to Tuesday's goal hero Cody McDonald as the mother of all six-pointers against Plymouth Argyle looms large.
The 22-year-old former Essex scaffolder has been the talk of the county this week after his late goal sealed a crucial win against Cardiff on Tuesday night.
And as all eyes now turn to Saturday's humdinger of a relegation battle, Gunn admitted that McDonald's arrival has brightened up proceedings at Colney.
“We've been very fortunate,” Gunn told the club's official website today. “Cody's a breath of fresh air with his attitude which he brings to work, because he knows what it's like to really work.
“That attitude is very refreshing and to have somebody like him in the squad is good and hopefully the other players realise that he's had a different journey to professional football than some of them.”
After a spectacular arrival onto the scene, and a goal which could have proved even more vital had it not been for David Marshall's wonder save from Gabor Gyepes at the death, the whole debate surrounding non-league players has now come to the fore again.
When the likes of McDonald can come in and make an impact ? and let's keep our feet on the ground here, he has a hell of a long way to go yet ? you wonder why managers up and down the country don't make a bigger effort to unearth a few more semi-professional gems.
But the City boss admitted that it has always been a market that he was keen to tap into…
“Yes, I think there are players out there, it's something John Deehan and I talk about regularly,” he said.
“You get recommended players from different avenues all the time, whether it be from your own scouts or from agents. In this day and age, even non-league players have agents because those agents know there are a few diamonds out there.”
And continuing his dream week, McDonald also found himself on the scoresheet for the reserves yesterday after Ian Crook's side went down 4-3 at Premier League giants Chelsea.
A Championship goal, swiftly followed by another one against the Blues' second string…it's been some week for the former Dartford man.
“Cody, Jamie Cureton and David Carney scored,” Gunn said. “I didn't make it but Ian Crook said the lads put on a good performance and it was a good run out for our players who haven't had a full run.
“It was also a good experience for our youngsters, such as Tom Adeyemi and David Stephens, it gave them a chance to play a team at a different level than they normally do. There were a couple of players who are around the reserves and first team mark so it was a good workout.”
On the injury front ahead of the Pilgrims encounter, the Canary chief revealed a mixed bag of news after admitting that Carl Cort was not likely to feature on Saturday due to the niggles and bumps which kept him out in midweek.
Furthermore, both Jason Shackell and Lee Croft had knocks that were being monitored closely by physio Simon Spencer.
Those two have been outstanding in recent games ? Blackpool apart ? and Gunn will be hoping and praying that both come through for what must surely be the biggest game of the season, if not recent years.
They can go one point behind Paul Sturrock's men with a victory and the confidence that will bring to the party could be invaluable.
“Carl will be struggling for this week; there were just too many games for him. He'll have a rest this weekend and hopefully be fit for the game away to Birmingham.
“Jason will be with the physios again tomorrow, his hamstrings were very tight at half-time and had we put him back on, we ran the risk of pulling something so a decision was taken not to do that so it's giving him an opportunity now to be fit for the Plymouth game.
“As for Lee Croft, he's a wholehearted competitor when he's out there and sometimes you don't know what the injury is because he flies into tackles and runs himself into the ground.
“He's another one who will be under the watchful eye of Simon Spencer tomorrow, just to make sure we're not causing any more damage to anything there. But I do fully expect him to be available for selection for Saturday.”
One silver lining on the Shackell front, however, is the form of Fulham loanee Adrian Leijer. He stepped into Shackell's shoes admirably at half-time against the Bluebirds and if the former Canary trainee doesn't make it, Gunn will have no qualms about putting the Australian international in from the start.
“Adrian came in and I thought he carried off an excellent defensive performance and you wouldn't have known that he hadn't played at Championship level before.
“It's helped us because we've seen Adrian play at this level now and we know he can, that gives us hope for the way we go on for the remaining eight games.”
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